Monday, April 15, 2013



"Transformed By Tough Times" by Steve Reed 
A book about tough times usually implies that the author has had some personal experiences that connect to that topic. Where did the book start for you? 

In college, I was a kicker and punter at Oklahoma State University under a demanding head coach, Jimmy Johnson. (Football fans might recognize him as the coach for two college national championships in the 80’s and a couple of Super Bowls in the 90’s for the Dallas Cowboys). Just playing for Coach Johnson was tough enough, but my sophomore year, I got my knee bent backwards in a Junior Varsity game in Lincoln, Nebraska. When surgery and rehab efforts didn’t get me back to playing football, I eventually had to hang up the cleats. Looking back now, that experience made me more aware of how other people dealt with adversity and caused me to pay more attention to how I could respond when faced with tough times.

Your book transitions pretty quickly from your football days to life as a church planter and how that actually prompted you to write this book. How did that all happen? 

When football didn’t work out, I found myself drawn to ministry in a great church near the OSU campus. Charlie Baker, the pastor of that church, invited me and other college students to partner with him in creating a weekly worship service for students. In doing that ministry I fell in love with the church and decided to go to seminary and be a pastor myself. After getting married and going through seminary training, we eventually moved to Kansas City to start churches. For nearly 20 years we were involved in the roller coaster rides of starting five different churches in our region. Most days, I absolutely loved it. But in one of those church starts we had a train wreck that knocked me for a loop and out of a church that I loved perhaps more than I loved my wife and family.

So after that you went on an even deeper quest for figuring out what was happening to you?  

Right. With a new intensity I began to systematically search the scriptures to find some help for my pain. And I collected information and stories from others wiser than me and from many who had suffered greatly and come through with amazing faith and character.

You write about a day in Costa Rica that changed your life. What happened?  

After the break up from the church, I wound up going to Costa Rica on a mission trip with my parents. My parents, by the way, were missionaries when I was a kid and 30 years prior we had actually lived in Costa Rica. For me, going back was a fun, blast to the past. But more than that, the people there were cathartic for me. I was an emotional mess much of the time. And one day I must have cried with three or four people who needed to know Christ, but who were in pain. God used my pain and my weeping with others to both minister to them and to me. That day I discovered something about God’s ministry of tears and how sometimes He does more through our weaknesses and frailties than He does with our strengths.

So this is where your international ministry began? 

Yes. While in Costa Rica, a Guatemalan man by the name of Cesar Gonzalez invited me to come to his country and dream about ministries and churches for people in Guatemala who don’t like church. To hear the whole story you’d have to pack a lunch! But let me briefly say that Cesar would have been a mafia hit man if God hadn’t gotten a hold of him! With a little encouragement from some pastor friends in Kansas City, I took him up on his invitation, and for two weeks Cesar and I drove around the country looking at dozens of different situations and groups of people. Little did I know then, that 13 years later we would be working in over 55 locations covering Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. I mention this because I have learned a lot from believers from other cultures and have put much of that into the book. Many of us in North America aren’t aware that both Guatemala and El Salvador have been through recent civil wars. Many people there have shared first hand stories of unimaginable grief and heartache. As I have walked alongside them, my faith has been challenged and I have an increasing desire to not just mindlessly go through my tough times, but to actually think deeply and grow through my tough circumstances. As I’ve done a little bit of that, I think it’s time that I pass some of this on to others who can benefit like I have.

Where can people find your book?

For now it’s only available from the trunk of my car! Or, more conveniently, it can be ordered from the website www.TransformedbyToughTimes.com. Soon it should become available on Amazon and we hope to have a Kindle version available in the near future as well. By the way, before Christmas we finished taping the audio book and I can’t wait to unveil that in the next couple of months too.

You also have a companion Bible study available as well right? 

Yes! Thank you for mentioning that. I think I am about as excited about the study guide as I am the book. On the website, www.TransformedbyToughTimes.com is a 24-session small groups Bible study guide that can be downloaded for free. It matches up to chapters in the book and then goes deeper with pertinent Bible stories and information related to the topic. Incidentally, when someone wants me to coach them through their own tough times, this is essentially the material I use. In early tests, we are getting positive feedback from groups going through the book and the Bible study together. Do check it out! 
NEWS

AVAILABLE ON KINDLE ... as of today 
TRANSFORMED BY TOUGH TIMES is now available on Kindle 
Steve Reed has some specials going on during the book tour on his website at http://www.transformedbytoughtimes.com/store/



Steve Reed is the Chief Encouragement Officer and Cross Cultural Catalyst for Daybreak International, a missions organization he founded that is dedicated to planting churches for the marginalized and forgotten peoples of the world. Currently, his two major projects focus on cowboys in Central America, and Kekchi Indians in the jungles of Guatemala. Those who know Steve best speak of his relentless encouragement and undying loyalty to people who face tough times. When not traveling in Central America, Steve comes home to Kansas City. He is married to Nola, and they have three young adult sons, a beloved daughter-in-law, and a grand baby on the way! 







Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wondering about wandering~

 Am I wandering too?

Loving a prodigal who is wandering into difficult and perhaps even dangerous territory is beyond difficult.  It is not for the weak at heart! Over the years, I have wondered about my own prodigal's wanderings so much that I failed to understand...I, too was wandering.

You see, when we walk out of the God's will and purpose for our life--yup, we're wandering. Right?

This afternoon, as I read a friend's first novel, "From Pharaoh's Hand," beyond the joy I felt for C H Green, I experienced a check in my spirit. "From Pharaoh's Hand" is a compelling story of a teen-aged prodigal, Elizabeth, and the dire consequences she faces in her wandering~all restored by God's powerful grace and love. I identified emotionally with Beth's parents, John and Carolyn...my heart understood their angst and despair. And yet, C H Green did not allow John and Carolyn to live in that state of paralyzing fear; no, my friend, Cynthia Green reminds the reader that even when the circumstances of our prodigals life seem impossible, our God never changes and is the God of the possible! Oh, the prayers of Beth's parents in this book were desperate pleas, but they were prayers girded in complete surrender. They did not trust anything about their daughter's wandering, but they trusted their God...who never fails.

How often have I lost myself while trying to micromanage my prodigals journey? How many times have I stopped living...oh I functioned, but I stopped walking in God's will for my life at that very moment...because I was unable to move forward without my prodigal. Anyone know the feeling? 

Then there are life's diversions, things we may do to overcompensate for our desperate need or things that help us stay in denial of our prodigal's waywardness. I've been there--I resemble that sentence! I, too, have been outside of God's will and purpose for my life--all while pleading for God to bring my prodigal home to Him. Oh the irony.  Oh the web the enemy weaves--how insidious is it that the enemy not only has a stronghold on our prodigal, but when we forget to continue to live and walk in God's purpose for us...yup, you knew it was coming--we, too, are wandering.

So as I continue to wonder about wandering...I want to begin walking boldly in the right direction--back into God's purpose for my life-each and every day forward.  How about you?  Do you feel lost in despair?  Are you tired from the spiritual battle of loving a prodigal?  Are you weary from the enemy's assaults?  What can you do today and the days to follow to strengthen your resolve to stop wandering...and step back into God's purpose for you today?

Is it a commitment to attend a Bible Study? Prioritizing daily devotions and time spent alone with God? Perhaps finding an accountability partner who will help you stay in your own life and stop wandering into your prodigal's journey or those nasty diversions and paths of denial?  Have you surrendered your prodigal's journey to God? Is it time to surrender again?  CONFESSION TIME: I am amazingly predictable at taking back what I have surrendered to God, which only leads me further away from God's will. Will you join me and take one step at a time to God's will for you today? Maybe it's just taking a walk and pondering purpose.  Maybe it's just practicing one of your spiritual gifts this day. Let's each find just one way each day to reconnect with the unique YOU that God created you to be.

It is important to wonder, to ponder wandering, not just our prodigal's wandering, but our own. For until we do, I suspect we will only continue to wander.  Loving our prodigals does not require that we step out of God's will and purpose, in fact, we are a stronger advocate for our prodigals as we stand in hope and live victoriously, boldly walking into each day that has been ordained for us before we were even born (Psalm 139:16)! Re-read the Parable of the Prodigal today (Luke 15: 11-32) with a focus on the father. Let's stay in our lives, our very purpose, so we will be fully prepared and equipped to throw that homecoming banquet one day. We MUST NOT change course and follow our prodigal's wanderings, or we risk missing what God has in store for us, ordained by His Will. I'm ready to redirect my path, how about you? Sing with me....Thy Word is a light unto my feet and a light unto my path~ Let's remember and never forget, His Will for us does not change although our life circumstances may change...let's redirect our focus to God's unchanging and perfect Will for our lives and step boldly, with confidence into abundant living. When we stop wandering, we role model the way home for our prodigals! BONUS!!!!!    


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Why are Goodbye's so sad?

This morning, after saying my goodbyes to our Junior-in-college- son and giving him the "just one more" hug, I smiled as I closed the door and watched his Dad drive him to the airport.  After spending nearly a month at home during Christmas Break, he is on his way back to Austin, TX...1173 miles to be exact...away from home.  He will turn 21 later this month, without ME.  ;)

Turning from the side door that leads to the garage, I waited to hear the car drive away until I gave way to the tears I had been holding back. Why is saying goodbye so hard...our son is doing so well in college and living on his own in a town so far away.  Our son has turned into an amazing young man and is working hard on his hopes and dreams for his own life.  His OWN life.

I knew before I could even whisper the question, what must be done.  Updating my status on Facebook, I asked: When does it get easier sending your adult child back to college!?!?!? This mother hen is having difficulty this morning with the goodbye! Sam has flown the coop, yet again, on his way to Austin, TX. :((((((

22 comments later, it seems I am not alone in this struggle. (OF COURSE NOT...WE ARE NEVER ALONE!)  If you are on Facebook, visit the discussion--it brought up some interesting points to consider. 

  • It may be unreasonable to expect that saying goodbye to your adult child should ever be easy or painfree.  As several Mom's pointed out, "they take our hearts with them."  Perhaps it is a myth that the goodbye gets easier as time goes by.  Perhaps we should expect to feel the sadness...to allow time to recover before we step back into our daily life without them. 

  • Perspective: I have two dear Facebook friends who are amazing moms.  Within the last two months, one lost a son forever  in a motorcycle accident and the other said goodbye to her son as he left home following a Christmas visit...to complete his tour in Afghanistan.  PHEW! POWERFUL! NOW, I have something to think about other than my own sadness. Perspective offers us the chance to see more clearly...perspective, literally, clears our muddied vision and thoughts and navigates us to emotional balance...to peace...to gratitude...to joy.
  • Where do I end...and where does my son's life begin?  Interesting question? I wonder how many mother's struggle with this dilemma when their children become adults.  I think....MANY. It's why we resist letting them grow and learn from their own mistakes. It's why we micro-manage, enable, and overstep their rightfully earned boundaries of adulthood. The real question I ask myself today is "Why do I feel so empty, so purposeless, and such loss when my adult children are not home?"  Clearly, the fact this feeling exists, demonstrates I have not accepted where I end...and they have begun!  ;)   
When does it get easier.....?  In 22 comments I learned it (whatever goodbye we are facing) when we understand it is reasonable to experience sadness--we carried them under our heart for 9 months and IN our hearts for many more. We'd be cold-hearted and dead if we didn't feel some sadness. 

When does it get easier....?  In 22 comments I learned PERSPECTIVE is so important...NO...PERSPECTIVE IS ESSENTIAL to navigate through our emotions. As I thought about both of my FB friends, I smiled as I remembered the joy we have shared together and prayed for them as I brought their pain and loss to God. Honestly, the raw pain in my stomach was gone...before I was done praying.  Interesting how that works. :) 

When does it get easier...?  In 22 comments I learned...what I already knew before I asked the question: I have more work to do.  I need to step boldly into the life that God has purposed for me.  No wonder I was floundering in those moments after he left--I was expecting to stay in a life that does not belong to me....and refusing to step back into the life that God has purposed for me.  

  • Just one more bullet point:  Surround yourself with support. One of my favorite comments was simply: "You pressed his wings, now he can fly STRONG!!"  Oh...I knew Sam was prepared to return to Austin, I knew he would be just fine, for his early adult years have proven just that. But I needed to hear it...SEE IT...to remind myself that NOW is his time to soar.  Kinda makes me smile with pride and gratitude for the blessing of Sam's life.  Soar, my son, SOAR~ 

In the coming weeks, Partners In Prayer For Our Prodigals will be dedicating posts to "Saying Goodbye."  If it is difficult to say goodbye to an adult child or loved one who is doing well, the dynamics of saying goodbye to a loved one who is a prodigal are painfully more complex and complicated.  Let's examine "Saying Goodbye" so we will no longer be an obstacle in our adult children's life.  It's Time To Say Goodbye...let's learn to do it well :)  Will you join me?  Post any comments or questions that may have come to mind after reading today's post...and we will tackle this together! 

 





Sunday, October 30, 2011


How did you come up with the idea for Deliver Me From Evil and the Freedom series?

It actually came out of a phone conversation with Andrea Mullins, the publisher at New Hope. We were discussing the Extreme Devotion series (about the persecuted Church), which I was still working on at the time, and we began to consider topics for a second series. Andrea was the one who suggested human trafficking, and it really struck a chord with me. The more I researched it and worked on the proposal, the more excited I became about joining forces with others working to abolish modern-day slavery, which is exactly what human trafficking is.

What was your favorite scene to write in Deliver Me From Evil?

This book/series has been the most difficult I’ve ever written, simply because the subject matter is so dark and heavy. More than once I had to walk away and clear my thoughts before moving on from one scene to another. But interspersed between the heartache and tragedy are several lighter scenes (written and incorporated into the book out of necessity), dealing with a pastor’s family and their Bible college-bound son who inadvertently discovers the human trafficking ring and becomes involved in the heroic and dramatic rescue attempt. Any scenes revolving around the absolutely functional and loving life of the Flannery family are my favorites.

What was the most difficult scene, and why?

There were many difficult scenes in this book due to the subject matter, but the hardest had to be when the main character, 18-year-old Mara, realizes that one of the younger girls is being tortured and killed in an effort to extract information and punish her. Though the actual violence is done offstage, Mara experiences each blow and muffled scream, as does the reader.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? If not, how did you catch the writing bug?

Oh yes, I never wanted to be anything else. From the time I discovered the power and allure of words, I was hooked! I was an avid reader before I started kindergarten. A short story I wrote in the third grade was turned into a play for the entire PTA, and I won all sorts of awards for poetry in high school. I even told my then boyfriend (now husband) Al when we were in our early teens that I was going to be a writer one day.

How do you go about writing your fiction books? Which comes first for you, plot, characters, and/or theme?

I usually get what I call “a niggling in my soul,” which eventually emerges into the very basic theme of the book. I hate outlining and writing proposals because I do NOT develop plots or even characters ahead of time. I start with a couple of main characters, a starting and ending point for my story, and just let the rest unfold as I go. I know. We’re not supposed to do it that way, but it works for me, and I so enjoy the surprises as the story develops and my characters take over. So much fun! So long as they don’t try to lead me away from my pre-determined ending. Then I have to reign them back in a bit.

How do you get your ideas for your books?

I have ideas coming out of my ears! I am a seriously addictive idea person. You want ideas? You can have my overflow! My challenge is to figure out which ones are worth pursuing. Not every cute or fun or even meaningful idea that pops into our head is meant to be a book. I pray, think, study, bounce them off people, etc., before committing to moving ahead with one of them. For the most part, however, nearly all my book ideas are, to one degree or another, born out of some moral or social issue that I care about.

How can we find out more about you, The Freedom Series, and other books you are writing?

Please visit my website at KathiMacias.com.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fy_37Tf54dc

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I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview on my blog. This blog tour is managed by Christian Speakers Services (ChristianSpeakersServices.com).

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY HOME by Kathi Macias


How did you come up with the idea for A Christmas Journey Home?

I knew I wanted to do a Christmas book—the first of what would become an annual event that my publisher and I were discussing—and I also knew that despite the lighter tone required in a Christmas book (as opposed to the darker themes of the persecuted Church and human trafficking, which I’ve been writing about), I had to stick to my “brand” as closely as possible: hence, an “issues-related” Christmas novel, dealing with the issues related to illegal immigration.
What was your favorite scene to write in A Christmas Journey Home?

I loved writing this entire book, and the characters are delightful (except the villains, of course!), so I loved almost all the scenes. But I think I liked the scenes with Isabella’s old abuelo best, as the grandfather reminded me of my own grandpa and even my dad, both of whom I loved dearly. I love incorporating at least one elderly saint in each of my books, and in this one I decided on a man since most of the other books have had women as the elderly, praying characters. I also brought in a little boy because children can add such a delightful element to any story, and six-year-old Davey certainly does that in A Christmas Journey Home.

What was the most difficult scene, and why?

The toughest scene had to be when Francisco and Isabella thought they were finally on the verge of being able to get away from the migrant camp and find a small home of their own, where their baby could be born in relative comfort and safety. If you’ve read the book, you know that isn’t at all what happens. But this heartbreaking scene had to take place to bring the story to its miraculous conclusion.

What is there about you, apart from writing, that many people don’t know?

First, my “road name” is “Easy Writer” because my husband and I were Harley riders for many years. (We’ve traded the bike in on a 2005 Corvette, so I’m still “Easy Writer” but in comfort now!) Also, I served on staff at a large Southern California church for several years, training small group leaders and doing biblical counseling, among other things.

Who are some of your favorite writers, and are you an avid reader?

Absolutely I’m an avid reader! I have always loved books/reading/words and been fascinated by them. When I ran out of books as I child, I started writing my own. (Voila! Look what came of that!) As for favorite writers, that’s tough, but here are just a few: Brock and Bodie Thoene, Francine Rivers, Patti Lacy, Athol Dickson, Jim Rubart, and Alan Paton, who wrote my favorite all-time fiction book, Cry the Beloved Country. That book changed my life and inspired my novel set in South Africa in 1989, No Greater Love. I also enjoy reading Brennan Manning, Jennifer Kennedy Dean, Oswald Chambers, and Max Lucado for nonfiction.

What’s on the horizon for you now, so far as future book projects?

I am currently finishing up the final book of the three-installment Freedom series (Deliver Me From Evil, Special Delivery, and The Deliverer). Then I will jump into my Christmas 2012 novel (working title is A Home For Christmas) and a novel called Last Chance for Justice, which is part of the multi-author Bloomfield Series with another publisher. After that I hope to get going on a new fiction series, which is still in the discussion/planning stages with my publisher and agent. So life is busy, but most contracts coming my way seem to be fiction right now. I am also keeping busy with very occasional editing projects and some speaking/teaching around the country.
Where can we find out more about you, The Freedom Series, and keep up with your to-be-released books?

Please feel free to visit my website at www.KathiMacias.com.